Here, fetch

Here, fetch

Not the first time we’ve celebrated the playfulness of otters in these pages.  This description of the artful animal turning the tables on would-be human tamers is a delight.  You start by throwing a ball and end up being the one who runs to fetch it. But when...
The chocolate question

The chocolate question

A boy is presented with a new aspect of chocolate when he meets a rare species: a child who may at some point have been permitted to eat as much of it as they wanted.  He is duly impressed. “It’s got every sort of chocolate you can think of,” I went on: “soft...
The bliss of relaxation

The bliss of relaxation

Nothing like flopping, tumbling, folding into a simple bed after a hard day’s work or activity, stretching your limbs, wiggling your toes, and sinking into sweet sleep.  Nothing seemed to me more miraculous than that simple bed in that bare and freezing...
A divine emotion

A divine emotion

I liked this description of a joyous but modulated sense of appreciation. For my part, I am almost contented just now, and very thankful.  Gratitude is a divine emotion; it fills the heart, but not to bursting; it warms us, but not to fever. Gratitudinously yours.   ...
Secret nests

Secret nests

In a happy childhood, such secret nests can be a place of enchantment and magic, a place to escape the grown up world for a while.  I still like the idea of cosy places in nature or in a rambling old house; where you can take supplies of chocolate and biscuits, with...
Enjoy, wherever you are

Enjoy, wherever you are

A simple reminder to enjoy the beauties of life at home, whenever you can.  Since the news is full of people losing their homes to war or natural disaster, it is worth remembering how wonderful a secure home is. Life could be beautiful, thought the old traveller,...
Life is fragile

Life is fragile

A recent article had a doctor refer to our ‘short, breakable lives’, reminding us of this fragility. Here is Nicolson’s take on Homer: Homer knows that life is fragile, love suffers hurt and death comes; and that the moments on a hillside in the...
In praise of lazy mornings

In praise of lazy mornings

Something magical about moments of morning idleness in idyllic spots.  Surely they allow some quiet clean up of over-burdened minds, or just some simple reprieve from restless strivings?  But still, leisure has its rewards here as well: idle mornings of meditation in...
Conveyor belts of civilization

Conveyor belts of civilization

Wine as a key constituent of our civilization, and I liked the idea of its being moved on great conveyor belts of happiness. For much of Europe, civilization has been intimately and happily tangled up with wine  – the essential element in wave upon wave of...
As punctual as …

As punctual as …

… an otter?  Not the obvious simile, but according to this, true.  This curious fact lies alongside the revelation that when the otter decided it was time to get up, his human handler had to get up to – the animal went through an elaborate process of...
Otter aquatics

Otter aquatics

Otters are playful and their element is water.  Here Gavin Maxwell’s companion Mij, having figured out where the bathroom is, slips between his human handler’s legs and makes a dash for the source of water. By the time I had caught up with him he was up on...
Prize life and enjoy it

Prize life and enjoy it

Caroline goes through a period of malaise and fear for her future, with illness en route. I believe in my heart we were intended to prize life and enjoy it, so long as we retain it.  Existence never was originally meant to be that useless, blank, pale, slow-trailing...
My kind of market (II)

My kind of market (II)

If you follow this website, you will know I’m partial to cornucopian markets bursting with fine foods and other delights.  Here’s a new description to whet the appetite for such magical human hubs. The Abkhazian bazaar!  Those smells, the sounds … It...
How to extend your lifespan

How to extend your lifespan

A Russian woman who lived in Abkhazia describes a local custom we might all like to adopt.  As a means to extend your lifespan, I can’t think of anything more delightful. According to Abkhazian custom, the time you spend with guests around the table...
I was loved!

I was loved!

After spending most of her childhood exiled in Siberia, much of it as a half-starved orphan, Maria is finally rescued by a distant aunt who takes her in and gives her a loving home for the first time in her life. “Oh my little birdie …” my aunt would...
The urge to play

The urge to play

This excerpt from an interview with a Russian writer brought up in Siberia, due to the political exile of her parents, demonstrates the child’s deep need to play and the imagination which led her to create her own dolls, despite poverty, exclusion and general...
Loving wood, knowing wood

Loving wood, knowing wood

A description of someone’s neighbour who knew and loved wood in equal measure.   I liked his capacity to identify different types of wood by their smell, and his description of them, particularly that of maple. Sometimes he would stand there in the courtyard and...
Afternoon tea (I)

Afternoon tea (I)

Must be the Brit in me, but I love detailed descriptions of sumptuous teas and picnics, although I have failed to win my Italian husband over to either concept.  So abject has my failure been that when I once mentioned a picnic, he innocently asked, ‘But why do...
Like a cradle-song

Like a cradle-song

Such a comforting line this, from a letter by the German poet Hölderlin. The sky and the air embrace me like a cradle-song.May they embrace you, too.  And here is another thought of Hölderlin, on a peaceful state of work; and in another letter, his admiration for a...
Within and without

Within and without

A thoughtful assertion, that cheerfulness is as much internally derived as externally influenced.   Wish you the conditions needed to have it come to you both from within and without.Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state...

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